Black Male Self Imprisonment, By Comrade Outlaw

Anti-Imperialism.org

Disclaimer: The following has been published with the expressed consent of our comrades from Supporting Prisoners and Acting for Radical Change (SPARC) and the original post can be found on their site here.

Comrade Outlaw has been held prisoner since the age of 19. Despite the incredible injustice he has faced, Comrade Outlaw has continued to develop his political work and revolutionary theory within the Virginia state prison system. Our theoretical differences are far overwhelmed by our solidarity with SPARC, Comrade Outlaw, and every prisoner and activist struggling with the repressive state apparatus on a daily basis. We have nothing but admiration and support for the work of Comrade Outlaw.

Readers may contribute to the fundraiser to assist him following his release here.

His work presented here details how he analyzes the crisis faced by Black men in Virginia (although certainly throughout the entire nation as well). Wherein Black…

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On Patient Solidarity: Toward a New Patient’s Front

The social class system and intertwinement of patriarchy embedded deeply with class contradictions need to be reanalyzed from the intersection of physical and mental health. Such an analysis requires the nascent analytical tools of proletarian feminism within Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. As proletarian feminism is being developed through intensive analysis of the various aspects of patriarchy within the history of class society founded in primitive accumulation, it is such that every known intersection of oppression must be addressed in order to develop the higher synthesis capable of emancipating every oppressed social grouping. A simple summary of proletarian feminism, which contains in itself contentious argument to several historic feminist and marxist trends, is that patriarchy is itself a base issue reified in the superstructure. Patriarchal oppression, under its concrete form in capitalism as it’s grown through each epoch of societal development, is exploitative in the base: reproductive labor being unpayable according to lacking surplus value production in the capital circuit, marital rape only recently recognizable due to marriage property contract, sexuality remains transactional in marriage’s complement of sex work and a globalized sex industry, the development of nations accorded national oppression under imperialism. This piece will tease out the manifestations of these systems of oppression on mental health without falling into the trap of bourgeois behavioral psychology, taking on an organic intellectualizing from within these intersections.

It is observable that the exploitative scheme of society leads to health issues when ones social behavior is outside the normative, and we also know as students of revolutionary science that these issues cannot come out of the superstructure alone – the productive forces behind ableist oppression are base issues. At the base we have the composition of the permanently unemployed and longterm residents of the reserve army of labor which reflects in the superstructure, on the job, through ableist discrimination damaging worker solidarity. Plain proletarian exploitation and theft of surplus value, as Marx has shown in his earlier writings on political economy in the Manuscripts, renders proletarians into animalistic creatures subsisting for shelter, food, and human comfort – workers experience traumas at the basic social level. With capitalism dominating the world political economy since at least 1848 through WWI, an environmental core of subsistence limited the creative potential of working peoples’ social formations. It’s no wonder we have the abusive bourgeoisie assigning disorders on personalities, on moods, on minds and sexuality. Deviations from a willing employability in the army of workers acts as detriment on the profit motive of private capitalist enterprises lending to the long term unemployed. Inability to function in legal subsistence leads easily to the subsistence schemes in the dangerous class of the lumpen. When every worker is judged on these abilities by the bourgeoisie, and effectively blacklisted through the state assignment of disability and “anti-discrimination,” where such workers wear the Scarlet Letter of Insane, the party must discontinue viewing social ailments as individual issues and instead as something affecting collectivity.

Physical limitations according to health affects practice and organizational approach for the party of the new type to handle correctly. It may be a safe assumption that every person in the masses handles a manifestation of patriarchy induced illness, physical and mental, which affects their ability to actualize as revolutionaries. The party, and so far in the US, pre party formations, must struggle to not side step these issues. It is easier to fall into a pattern of organizational gaslighting of mental illness and the other “hidden disabilities.” This is tailing the masses and their own individualized wellness programs which will weaken the party and ultimately we cannot serve the masses in this way. On the flip side of these contradictions, the party cannot act as psychologist or doctor on the masses – this is commandism which ultimates in cultism and personality driven politics. Our conduct must reflect an understanding of the problematics and liability these illnesses interject in organizing.

In order to serve the masses to the fullest, to concentrate their ideas and strengthen the intermediate, the party must keep anti patriarchy politics in command in the cadre. The party must show compassion for wellbeing while keeping current with bourgeois medical practice, with bourgeois Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy as the advanced practice, informing the party’s role and education among the masses and especially as the nationally oppressed have limited access to mental health care. The party must also limit liability that weakens it, working with the ill and consciously deciding with the unwell their limit of performing partisanship on behalf of the masses. To develop these institutions a Patient’s Front within the greater collectivity must be sanctioned and allowed a decision shaping potentiality. This task falls to proletarian feminism as the institution capable of analyzing how and responding to the primary contradiction of patriarchy manifested through synthesis of materialist intersectionality.

spk

Additionally, there has been the Patients’ Front / Socialist Patients’ Collective (H) working toward a sense of the project.

[poem] dips and flows

I figured the ten or so people who have linked up to my blog might want to know why I haven’t updated in months. This is basically me.

“dips and flows”

how do you remember where you
are going
when everything about where you
have been
is muted or hidden,
and everything about where you
live is just the flux of dips or flows?

you get tools from learned men
you get pills from learned women
they get you through
and you know you won’t look where
you are going
you cannot see where you’ve been
just the dip or flow.

It could make you right for the task
of the people’s fight,
you won’t ever know you’re right
you won’t ever know where it’s going
is it nihilism or life

take the street.

all you are is the accumulation of where
you’ve been
and you cannot see through the mire
of past pills and lines and drinks
shakes in the morning and night
all the people whose faces are blurred
through long nights
and fast running away
most of the sex was good at least
most of the friends fell away
most had to run before you could.

you cannot differentiate between
the exploitation times
the wage
the begging on parking lots
and scams keeping you upright

you cannot breathe through the night.

today and yesterday you know it’s
just been dips and flows
night is worse
and there is not day.

you only know a thing will come around
there’s a day when sense makes you
now it’s only major chords to guide
delta blues symmetry
cigarettes and coffee
cat’s matted fur
someday something else will be new

you will not always pass your brother’s
face on your way to sleep after
hours more spent in books you
forget
in resigned isolation until the time
the street is real under you.

Fall 2013: The People Strike Back

Revolutionary Student Coordinating Committee

For several years now, the social relations of CUNY have been transforming in a way that can be characterized by one word: militarization. This is evident in events such as students being beaten and arrested by CUNY public safety on November 2011 during a Board of Trustees meeting, or the FBI spying on Muslim student organizations. Since the start of the fall 2013 semester, students and workers in CUNY have formed a united front to challenge militarization by protesting the return of ROTC to campuses and David Petraeus teaching in CUNY. The actions of this united front have led to an exciting development that has changed the entire terrain of struggle, as well as opened up many new revolutionary possibilities for the direction that struggles in CUNY will take.

To understand the present situation in CUNY, I will take the reader from the general to the particular level

The General…

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On Standards of Feminist Conduct-CMLMS

Reposted from Signalfire: On Standards of Feminist Conduct-CMLMS

“Violence against women is a permanent feature of all capitalist societies, including US capitalist society. It is one of the most abhorrent aspects of patriarchy, the evil institution of women’s oppression. Patriarchy in the US has its own specific characteristics that are particular to capitalism, such as the widespread commodification of women. The term “commodification” refers to the transformation of women by the capitalists into objects for sale, a process in which ordinary men also participate.

Violence against women also shows up within self-proclaimed revolutionary organizations and revolutionary movements in the US. This includes rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment, unwanted sexual pressure, other forms of physical and verbal abuse, and other forms of violation of consent. Recently, two major Trotskyist organizations, one in Britain [1] and one in the US [2], were rightly subjected to public exposure and condemnation for the liberalism (meaning the unprincipled lack of struggle) of their members in failing to oppose rape culture.

Another communist organization in the US was also exposed less than a year ago for sheltering a rapist member, disciplining him by merely having him write an essay for “self-criticism.” [3] At the height of the Occupy movement, there were accounts of sexual assault at protest camps in New York, Cleveland, Dallas, Baltimore, Lawrence, Portland, New Hampshire, and Glasgow. [4] It is also well known that rape culture is widespread among anarchist collectives and the broader anarchist milieu. [5] For every revolutionary organization and trend, the same question of women’s emancipation is on the table: which side are you on?

This is one of the most important political questions that must be resolved today for the revolutionary movement to move forward. In certain specific circumstances, it is the single most important political question. The fact that there is increasing debate on this question and growing disorder within the ranks of organizations is a good thing that must be encouraged to develop further. There needs to be more of it: more debate, more disorder, more turmoil, and more people raising their voices. Some have pointed out the causal link between the British Trotskyists’ class reductionist line and male chauvinist practice.

Others have highlighted the weak organizational forms of anarchists and their employment of “accountability processes” guided by “restorative justice” frameworks that very often turn out to be shams for the women involved. [6] However, this is too simple of an understanding of the problem if left at this level. In reality, violence against women within revolutionary organizations and revolutionary movements is a phenomenon with a wide expanse. It is not narrowly rooted in any specific trend.

No ideology or -ism will make an organization immune from this problem. There will be groups and individuals claiming all sorts of political positions who at the same time always relegate women’s emancipation to a secondary and unimportant place, or combine feminist discourse with male chauvinist conduct. Therefore, the most important question here is how an organization addresses the problem of violence against women when it arises in practice, as chances are it will at some point within its ranks. Certain guiding principles can be derived from the positive aspects of the Leninist-Comintern historical experience and from the comprehensive whole of today’s ideology of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism.

Maoism must be emphasized here, because of its breakthroughs in developing the trend of proletarian feminism and on the organizational question. Proletarian feminism is a trend of women’s emancipation generated in practice out of the Maoist-led People’s Wars and revolutionary mass movements around the world. [7] The Maoist party concept is also something fundamentally new in its nature and methods of work. [8] The guiding principles outlined here should determine the formulation of organizational policies in the US on anti-women violence. Without the correct policies based on the correct principles, revolutionary organizations in the US will never be able to organize increasing numbers of women as militants and leaders, as they have so far failed to do in the way that history demands of us.The domination of the NGO opportunists and their petty-bourgeois identity politics will remain uncontested. The masses of proletarian women will be left to follow the leadership of different non-proletarian trends, without the weapon of independent class politics.

 

1. Revolutionary organizations, if they are genuine, must automatically expel any member who engages in anti-women violence and abuse. Organizations that fail to do this cannot be taken seriously and must be publicly exposed for their liberalism in failing to oppose male chauvinism. The “restorative justice” framework and the “accountability process” used by anarchists and other activists more often than not merely reproduce in practice the dynamics of patriarchy.

For Marxist-Leninists, “rectification” and “criticism / self-criticism,” without a policy of expulsion, often becomes the same liberal process with a different name. In contrast, zero tolerance for male chauvinist violence and abuse must be the principle, meaning automatic expulsion and, depending on the circumstances, public exposure. This is the only way to forge organizations that are developing the actuality of women’s emancipation, not just talking about it as an appealing idea.

2. During investigations by an organization in the US into incidents of anti-women violence and abuse, the word of the victim alleging that violence and abuse has been committed against them must be given more weight than the word of the accused. If there is a factual dispute, the guiding principle must be to adopt policies and enact decisions based principally on the victim’s account of events. Victims of domestic violence often have their reality denied or manipulated consistently by their abusers.

This must be taken into account when investigating the facts and when coming to a decision about the accused. The revolutionary organization in the US, which is not a court of justice with a court’s material powers of investigation and presumptions, cannot allow the accused to simply deny the victim’s account in part or wholesale, call into question the victim’s motives, and mobilize their social network to pressure the victim and the organization.

Revolutionary organizations in the US are not states making decisions on punishment and rehabilitation, which would operate according to different standards. They are voluntary associations that must make a call – generally based on limited and conflicting verbal or written accounts – on how to respond to an incident, taking into consideration the need to advance the struggle for women’s emancipation, to develop women as militants and leaders, and to protect the organization’s work and reputation.

3. Rectification of individuals who have engaged in anti-women violence must be encouraged, but can take place only after their expulsion from the ranks of an organization, as a condition of re-admission at a future time. Certain acts, such as rape or sexual assault, must result in a lifetime ban without question. For organizations struggling in the imperialist countries, the Communist Party USA’s expulsion, subsequent mass public trial in 1931, and eventual rectification of Yokinen, a Finnish CPUSA member who denied several African Americans entry to a dance at the Finnish Workers Club in Harlem, remains the best example in the US of what a successful rectification process looks like in practice, in this case for white chauvinist conduct. [9]

Rectification in this regard does not mean uttering some words in an organizational meeting, writing an apology essay, engaging in mediation, participating in accountability circles or victim impact panels, or getting counseling and treatment. Are white chauvinists supposed to be counseled and treated as well? Rectification means conducting self-criticism widely before the masses, submitting the fullest account of one’s conduct and history to public scrutiny, and following through on a course of political activity of struggle against women’s oppression, which must include ongoing transformation of the individual person, similar to what Yokinen successfully carried out under the leadership of the CPUSA.

Recognizing that there is no organization in the US today with the necessary base, prestige among the masses, and scale to conduct such a process means that in the current objective and subjective conditions, successful rectification of individuals for male chauvinism should generally be pursued, but will inevitably continue to be the exception rather than the rule. The most important thing is to struggle against the small-group dynamics that are a soil for male chauvinism and prevent the organization of women. Violence against women will not end without the organization of women.

4. The ideological and political line of a revolutionary organization might be outlined in its documents, but ultimately becomes a material force among the masses only through the conduct and actions of its members. This is one of the new contributions of the Maoist party concept, which emphasizes the importance of revolutionary attitudes among the cadres. Revolutionary organizations must instill in members the need to practice the constant remolding of their thinking and actions to create the actuality of women’s emancipation.

5. Putting the proletarian feminist line in command requires a continuous engagement in criticism and self-criticism, or CSC. CSC in this particular instance involves studying the concept and history of patriarchy, discussing its manifestations in thinking, conduct, and actions through facilitated group settings, and coming to collective decisions on how to fight it. At the same time, CSC that takes place without an existing policy of expulsion for male chauvinist violence and abuse ends up being a toothless ritual that paralyzes rather than strengthens organization. The party building movement of the last phase, the 1960s and the 1970s, largely failed the masses of toiling women in this country.

Those who imagine that a communist organization with proletarian feminist politics at its core can be built or that a revolutionary proletarian feminist movement can be developed today from the ground up – without first confronting the pressing issue of male chauvinism in the existing organizations and circles, including determining the proper guiding principles and policies to do this – are thoroughly deluding themselves. This view amounts to the liquidation of the struggle for women’s emancipation and a kind of economism that refuses to address the real political question at hand of the involvement of women in organizations. We welcome dialogue with feminist-oriented collectives and individuals who are working on this issue in practice and interested in mutual learning through the discussion of organizational principles and policies:

Center for Marxist Leninist-Maoist Studies 16/8/2013

Endnotes

1. Shiv Malik and Nick Cohen, “Socialist Workers Party leadership under fire over rape kangaroo court,” guardian.co.uk, March 9, 2013. (http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/mar/09/socialist-workers-party-rape-kangaroo-court).

2. “Rape, Sexual Assault, and the U.S. Socialist Organization Solidarity.” (http://www.thenorthstar.info/?p=9350).

3. For more information, see the blog Necessary Means: Confronting patriarchal violence. (http://necessarymeansfight.blogspot.com/).

4. “Occupy Wall Street: How About We Occupy Rape Culture?” (http://persephonemagazine.com/2011/11/04/occupy-wall-street-how-about-we-occupy-rape-culture/).

5. See, for example, Betrayal: A critical analysis of rape culture in anarchist subcultures, Words to Fire Press (“It would seem that throughout the anarchist milieu, wherever you turn, there is a community being ravaged by rape, by sexual assault, and by abuse.”).

6. Ibid. (“[T]internal workings of the accountability process itself have the potential to be hijacked and used against a survivor. … In some cases [perpetrators] are allowed to make demands of the survivor or else place criteria on their own participation. Perpetrators, or their apologists, all too commonly respond to being called out by making defensive ‘callouts’ of their own. As discussed earlier, they will accuse the survivor of any wrongdoing they can think of, or else make some up when actual misdeeds are not forthcoming. Rather than recognize these pathetic attempts at slander as the manipulative transgressions they are, the false supporters usually join the perpetrator in absurd calls for ‘accountability’ from the survivor. From this newfound position of righteousness, and with the complicity of the false supporters, the perpetrator is free to alter the very character of the accountability process.

What began as a callout becomes more like a negotiation, as a perpetrator’s cooperation becomes contingent on the survivor addressing their concerns. Perhaps some of these concerns might even be valid, but of course what’s important is not their validity but their role in undermining the survivor’s struggle. The survivor must now earn not only the accountability they get from the perpetrator, but also the support they get from the community. Those survivors who are unwilling or unable to jump through all the hoops will be written off. In a final perversion of the accountability process, the survivor will be the one blamed for its failure, the one who was unwilling to ‘work things out’. By this point the so-called ‘Restorative Justice’ framework has been so distorted that it succeeds only in ‘restoring’ the power dynamics of a Rape Culture which had been otherwise compromised by the survivors’ struggle.”).

7. See, for example, Avanti, “Philosophical Trends in the Feminist Movement.”

8. See, for example, Ajith, “The Maoist Party.”

9. Harry Haywood, “The Struggle for the Leninist Position on the Negro Question in the United States,” The Communist, September 1933, available at:http://www.marxists.org/archive/haywood/1933/09/x01.htm.

Naming names – Reblog from Ema Teapot

First, I want to express how courageous this blog owner is for publishing her story, and to thank her for allowing me to republish it here in solidarity. Em, and her comrades including the survivor, have gone through hell. Em eloquently describes the incidents and broken process they had to follow to remain above board. They have had no closure except for what they have been able to build for themselves. The survivor of the sexual assault has had no ability to find closure, indeed the perpetrator has filed legal suit in the bourgeois courts against her. Their local IWW branch followed the process set forth and expelled the harasser, however he continued harassing everyone involved. He filed an appeal, where the committee upheld the branch decision. Yet, the harassment continued with little solidarity from their community and the IWW at large.

Thank you to Em, and I stand in solidarity with her, and the survivor, and all the women who have been and still are silenced by this community.

(I feel obliged to disclose that I am a member in bad standing in the IWW. I’ve fallen into bad standing for several reasons, not least of which is that it lacks a progressive organizational process toward sexual harassment and violence. This might be met with hostility from some segments of the org, however, I will respond here and continue to do so in person that the union is unsafe for women and trans* people. The process that exists attempts to include all forms of harassment within it – there is no policy toward sexual harassment or rape. There are individual branches instituting their own local policies, however sexual violence should not be left to the autonomy of local bodies. It is my hope that the reporting from their former branch be considered seriously by the headquarters and executive bodies. I am not alone in my hope to see a policy instituted at the coming Convention.)

Ema Teapot

I have decided to name some names of people involved in this post:
http://emateapot.wordpress.com/2013/02/12/misogyny-and-the-left-we-need-to-start-practicing-what-we-preach/

As an update the harasser was a member of the Australian IWW. He was expelled by the local branch and eventually this was upheld by an appeals committee in Portland, which had had no prior contact with anyone involved.

This however has not stopped people from siding with the harasser and continuing to discredit us. Nor has the fact that he has a long history of harassing other people.

Both I and the other woman involved were forced to leave the organisation because of this victim blaming. It has been made quite clear to us, not only by those directly involved, but also by people on the ROC who either did nothing or who participated in trying to discredit me when I made some of what happened public.

I do want to make it clear that…

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